A Catholic priest from New York City is in the headlines after publicly forgiving a woman who stole from his church’s donation box last month, using the opportunity to tell the public that anyone in need could come to his church for assistance.
Pastor Stephen Norton of Saint Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church in the Bronx, New York, was recently faced with a tough decision when the district attorney’s office called to inform him that a 30-year-old woman turned herself in for taking $300 from the church box: Norton could have kept the charges against her — or had mercy and dropped them.
He chose the latter, saving the woman from being charged with petit larceny and giving her a second chance.
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“If we’re going to say we’re following Christ’s example, well, what was Christ’s example?” Norton said in an interview. “He loved and forgave everyone. I just thought that (pressing charges) wasn’t the answer.”
In a separate interview with the New York Daily News, the priest said he believes the Catholic Church is “about forgiveness” and said that this is also his “role as a priest,” adding that he hopes the woman who turned herself in has learned a lesson from the scenario.
“We don’t give out money out from the front of the church,” Norton added. “But there are lots of ways we could have helped her if she had come to us and asked rather than take it on her own.”
The priest also invited anyone else in the community who might need help to come to Saint Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church to seek services, News 12 reported.
“Here’s a food pantry,” he said. “Here’s a way for you to get any kind of services through the Catholic Church.”
The woman in question reportedly stole from the church on Jan. 12, with security footage showing her rifling through the donation box.
(H/T: News 12)
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